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‘We Have Lost All Faith In Maternity Services’ Say Parents Of Stillborn Baby

Medical Law Experts Welcome Apology From NHS Trust But Say Improvements Must Be Made


By Helen MacGregor

The parents of a baby delivered stillborn following an ‘appalling catalogue of failings’ by midwives have spoken of their heartache for the first time in the hope lessons are leant to prevent anyone else from going through the same ordeal.

Lesley Broughton and her partner Jason Ham made desperate pleas to medical staff at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch to save their first child together when Lesley began losing so much blood that she thought she was ‘going to die’.

Yet midwives waited for over two hours to send Lesley for an emergency caesarean after baby Ford’s heartbeat dropped on the scanner despite it being flagged as a high-risk pregnancy. By the time he was delivered on 3 October 2010 it was too late and he died of catastrophic brain damage after being starved of oxygen.

Desperate for answers as to whether more could have been done to help Ford, the couple from King’s Norton in Birmingham, instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell who have secured them a full admission of responsibility and official apology from the Chief Executive of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

The Trust has also now agreed an undisclosed sum in an out-of-court settlement to the couple to fund psychiatric rehabilitation treatment as they suffer severe depression, have lost faith in all doctors and are too scared to try for another baby.

Irwin Mitchell found the Trust’s own investigation following the tragedy indentified the following key failings:

• Lesley was not reviewed by a consultant despite her being a high-risk patient after suffering complications with her first two births;
• Communication issues, inappropriate heart scan interpretations and poor documentation led to poor management;
• Midwives failed to request additional help when the maternity unit became busier;
• Lesley and Jason were not provided with somewhere quiet to come to terms with their loss.

Tom Riis-Bristow, a medical law and patient rights expert from Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office represents the family. He said: “This is a tragic case that has seen a young couple left devastated by the loss of their first child together.

“What is clear is that midwives made an appalling catalogue of failings and ignored a number of clear signs that Lesley should be rushed for an emergency caesarean to save Ford’s life.

“It’s hard to comprehend why more was not done to investigate why Lesley was in so much pain and losing so much blood, particularly given that staff were aware she was a high risk pregnancy

“The couple have understandably found it incredibly hard to accept what happened and need specialist support to help them come to terms with their loss. We are pleased that a settlement has been reached to fund this but we are also keen to see proof that the Trust has learnt from the mistakes it made and made improvements to ensure the same tragedy cannot happen again.”

Lesley was admitted to the Alexandra Hospital on 1 October so she could be monitored closely after suffering repeated heavy bleeding. By 7.15am on the 3 October midwives struggled to find a strong heartbeat for Ford on the scan, yet it took over two hours for staff to transfer Lesley to theatre for a more detailed scan and potential caesarean section.

Ford was eventually delivered at 9.39am with no signs of life and despite staff trying to resuscitate him for 20 minutes, there was sadly nothing that could be done.

Lesley then had to spend a further three weeks in hospital recovering from blood loss and further complications from surgery.

The 31-year-old, who has two children, aged six and 11 from a previous relationship, said: “Ford was mine and Jason’s first child together and we were so excited to welcome him into the family.

“My other children couldn’t wait to meet him and they made cards for him; so when Jason had to go back to our home and tell them they wouldn’t ever get to see him and I was poorly in hospital, it broke their hearts too.

“Jason and I knew something was wrong but despite begging for help, the midwives did nothing and just didn’t seem to care. I was losing so much blood I thought I was going to die.

“I don’t remember the caesarean and needed further surgery. Several hours after the delivery a doctor came and told me that Ford had died while I was on my own.

“The following day, Jason and I were allowed to go and say goodbye to Ford. We both held him in our arms and sobbed. Even when I stayed in hospital to recover for three weeks, none of the nurses seemed to care about what we’d been through and didn’t offer any support or counselling.”

Lesley added: “We were disgusted by the way we were treated and determined to get justice for Ford. We welcome the apology but nothing could bring him back or make up for the pain we continue to suffer. We’re too scared to try for another baby because we’ve lost faith in the country’s maternity services.

“We just hope more than anything that improvements on the ward have been made as it will give us a tiny piece of hope that Ford’s death was not completely in vain.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to birth injury claims and pregnancy claims.